...when NC State comes to the Dean Dome.
Tonight at the Dean Dome there will be another rivalry game for the Tar Heels. It's North Carolina State (14-9, 4-6 in the ACC) versus third ranked North Carolina (23-2, 9-2 in the ACC) in round two for the season. And while this game should be for the Heels to take if they want to, do not think that the Wolfpack team that comes to town tonight is the same one that Carolina beat on January 30th. On one side NC State has won three of their last games since facing UNC, including Wake. On the other side the Heels have won 11 out of 12 matches against their in-state rivals. But what I am really wondering about this game is the new equation of UNC...
And that equation is T to the 3. In other words: Is Ty Lawson going to be healthy? Is Tyler Hansbrough over the concussion he received against Miami? Is Tyler Zeller going to be on the floor? Is he going to make the difference down the line? I guess we will have answers to the first three questions tonight, but for the fourth one we'll have to wait until March Madness comes along. In the last game between these two teams, where North Carolina won 93 to 76, Hansbrough had 31 points, while five Tar Heels scored in double figures. This is due to the fact that while NC State might be a better offensive squad of late, they are still one of the worst when it comes to defense.
However, as we all know, when we talk rivalries and college basketball numbers and stats shouldn't be looked at too hard, what is needed to win these types of games is desire and willingness. Of late this Carolina squad has that, especially with a sparkling Ty Lawson leading the way as the floor general. As the junior point guard said in a quote yesterday about this game: “It’s one of our rivals, so if you can’t get excited for that, what can you get excited for?” I have to say that having followed UNC basketball for a long time I've had the chance to watch Lawson for three years, and the difference between this year and last is pretty visible.
After this game the Tar Heels will have four more games in the regular season, including the end of the season one with Duke at the Dean Dome. Then it will be off to the ACC Post Season tournament in Atlanta, Ga. and the NCAA Tournament. There is still lots of basketball to be played for these young men, with the core of them maybe on their last run as a Tar Heel. Watching them turning from youngsters from high school to players in Division I was something great, now starting the stretch run for the end of their road and towards the pro's sure has a weird feeling to it. So, do not over think what they do on the court, enjoy the game, enjoy them, as the times you will be able to see them is only getting smaller.